Iafrate still has NHL's fastest shot

January 22, 1994|By Sandra McKee | Sandra McKee,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Washington Capitals defenseman Al Iafrate successfully defended his title in the NHL's Skills Competition for the fastest shot last night during NHL All-Star activities here.

The Eastern Conference stars lost to the Western Conference stars in the overall competition, 18-11.

Iafrate's shot was measured at 102.7 mph, the only one of eight competitors to break 100 mph.

Harford Whaler Geoff Sanderson was second, with a 98.2 mph shot, and Calgary Flames defenseman Al Macinnis, who won the competition in 1991 and 1992, was at 97.1 mph.

"It's an honor to be known as the man who shoots the puck harder than anyone else in the world," said Iafrate before the skills competition. "But I want to win the fastest skater. I've never won that. I always come in second or third. It would be pretty neat to win that once."

But disappointment loomed. It was two guys from Detroit, Paul Coffey, the 1991 winner, vs. Sergei Fedorov, the 1992 winner, in the finals, and it was Fedorov who made it to the finish line in 13.525 seconds. He was .015 off the record set last year by Mike Gartner.

"I've skated with some great skaters through the years," said Coffey, who eliminated Iafrate in the first heat. "But no one skates like Sergei. No one, ever."

Iafrate, who is gimpy from a sprained knee suffered in Philadelphia last month, was still happy.

"No one here doesn't care," he said. "No one makes it here without pride. And I think a lot of people, hockey people, wanted me to lose [hardest shot]."

He said he felt going into this contest that he still had something to prove, because, "Even though I've won it every time I've been in it, a lot of people don't like me and still don't think I've got the hardest shot."

Iafrate, who won the competition the first time in 1990 at 96 mph, said he didn't expect to be cheered last night. But even the New York fans, who filled this place to its 18,200 capacity, were moved by Iafrate's blast, cheering wildly as his shot registered over 100 mph for the second year in a row.

Last year, Iafrate became the first man to fire a puck into a net over 100 mph. Then, at the All-Star Game in Montreal, he blasted the puck 105.2 mph to set the record.

In the NHL Heroes of Hockey game against the New York Rangers Heroes, the NHL won, 6-3.

Dave "Tiger" Williams was the only NHL Hero who received more cheers than boos during introductions -- besides Gordie Howe, who got a standing ovation.

But Williams' favor lasted only until 9:11, when he netted a penalty shot for a 1-0 lead. Peter McNab made it 2-0 before Rangers Hero Ron Grechner put one by former Philadelphia Flyers goalie Doug Favell.

Favell had lamented before this game, "I'm too old to play goal."

NHL stars Lanny McDonald, Bill Barber, Terry O'Reilly and Clark Gillies also scored.

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